Our love affair with smart devices has led to an explosive growth in the number of devices we surround ourselves with. But whereas they allow us to keep an eye on our homes when we are away or help us track the expiry date of items stored in our fridges, they also leave us vulnerable to intruders, who can use them to hack their way into our homes.
For instance, if we choose weak passwords for our internet-connected smart devices or fail to update their security systems, we risk creating access points for hackers.
Once a malicious mind has entered your network via devices such as security cameras or fridges, they can try to exploit you by taking charge of your computer and encrypting files until you pay a ransom to have them decrypted. Or they could use your network as a gateway to harm others by orchestrating attacks from hundreds of thousands of hacked devices simultaneously.
Identifying digital ghost ships
In a new project, DTU Associate Professor Emmanouil Vasilomanolakis aims to develop a method that can detect such ‘digital ghost ships’-devices in the sea of smart electronics that have been neglected and pose a security threat. As he explains: Knowing where they are is crucial to alerting the owner so they can either make them safe to use or disable them.
“We believe that digital ghost ships are a real security threat,” he says.
Emmanouil Vasilomanolakis coined the term digital ghost ship, which references the ghost ships of the seas-vessels that have no crew on board to safely steer them.